Skeleton Knight, in Another World Volume 7 epilogue
On a certain day, an invention that rocked the entire world was announced.
Parietal Association Cortex Connection Terminal.
The innovative technology, dubbed PACC by the populace, included the neuronal access terminal.
Until the system had been announced, the technology was thought to be in the far-off future, but a Canadian company gathered the most talented american engineers to develop it.
With this technology, after the module was embedded in the back of someone’s head through a simple surgery, the external PACC could be connected and create a pseudo-space that could immediately reproduce images and videos in the brain.
The created pseudo-space was connected to one’s senses through the parietal association field, recreating the five senses in one’s brain, letting what was experienced in this space mirror reality.
The various ethical and theological concerns were pointed out shortly after the PACC’s announcement.
However, the technology was eventually utilized in a multitude of fields.
Providing a life-like bodily sensation, it was mostly used to provide occupational training for various careers.
Even astronauts used it for extravehicular and crisis evasion training.
The pseudo-space had the training programs built in, with the missions mimicking real life, allowing high precision training since accidents wouldn’t result in death.
Firefighters and policemen could run emergency drills with ease and even athletes could improve their form. Though it took repetition for the brain to accept ideas without experiencing them with their bodies, the skills cultivated with the PACC were honed to a remarkable degree above traditional methods.
The percentage of soldiers diagnosed with PTSD had also been reduced, as basic training was conducted on pseudo-battlefield where the sensation of pain was set to its lowest degree. Soldiers that received training through the PACC fulfilled their duty without being subjected to excessive battlefield stresses.
However, traditionally trained soldiers saw those who were not afraid to die on the battlefield as strange, and multiple governments were condemned for creating brainwashed soldiers.
The PACC trained soldiers themselves praised the system, but the fervor in which they defended the training eventually resulted in a large controversy between PACC abolitionists and supporters.
As a result, the use of PACC was globally restricted, but it was impossible for the innovative field of research to stagnant.
The International Organization of Standardization was formed to regulate PACC…… While the ISO had it’s problems it slowly began to show signs of progress.
However, the same year the ISO was formed, the Canadian company that developed the PACC revealed a new system.
Spirit and Time Room System.
Avid manga readers eagerly awaited the STR system, specifically, because of its ability to alter the flow of time one experienced within the STR.
In other words, it was possible to create a situation in which one could spend three hours in the pseudo-space created by the STR and exit it to find that only an hour had passed.
It was technology right out of a dream, so naturally, career training and learning speeds drastically improved once again.
Due to the strain the time compression placed on the brain, it was kept to a 3:1 ratio.
The PACC terminals spread from specialized fields into more general ones.
One of those fields was the gaming industry.
Because of the required module implant, only those who were eighteen years old, or older, were allowed to use the PACC. However, the draw of experiencing next-generation VR was enough to generate a sufficient demand for it.
And there was a man who was crazy about next-gen VR using the PACC.
Still, the PACC equipment and materials were rather expensive, even with its spread into the general market, the operation cost as much as a new car.
One of the major factors that hindered the market was that insurance didn’t cover the PACC module operation.
The obsessed man also believed that it was more of a luxury item rather than a requirement for a healthy body.
In the first place, that man took a crowded train to work every day, received a meager paycheck and lived in a narrow apartment.
For a person that lived this kind of life, stories and information about the system filled every nook and cranny of his mind.
That’s why, when a PACC game was recruiting beta testers, he didn’t hesitate and applied immediately.
The game’s development had been started by a European PACC distributor and the VR project was later contracted to a game studio affiliated with them.
The game was a fantasy MMORPG in which the player became the demon king, expanded their territory by building their army and invading the territories of other players.
Although the demon king system had still been in beta and there only a hand full of testers, the players could choose to make their demon king an elf, human, or even a goblin.
The man set his demon king up as a former human who assembled an undead army and used the humans living in his territory as materials for his undead.
For the next month the man repeatedly played the game like that and thoroughly enjoyed being on the cutting edge of technological advancement.
Other beta testers felt that the death animations in the game were too realistic and asked that they were simplified, but the man adamantly argued against their suggestion, as he felt doing so would detract from the first PACC game.
The game was the closest to mirroring the reality, and the man couldn’t endure the boredom of having the game reverted to a less immersive build.
Since his character had been a magic user, he hadn’t felt repulsion at killing something, even if that something was human.
No matter how real the world looked like, it was still fake…… that’s what the man thought anyway.
And then that day came.
After eating out like usual the man returned to his apartment, connected to his PACC terminal and started up the game.
The man laid down on his bed, closed his eyes and listen to the quiet tone of the system starting up.
On that day, the man in the apartment vanished……
A person who had been lying motionlessly on his bed suddenly began to stir.
He wore luxurious canonical robes and a large hat that had Hiruku’s holy symbols sewn into it.
The rim of the hat was connected to a thick veil that was almost impossible to see through.
The man had been dreaming of the past while he’d sleep. The man made a specific hand movement in the air as he started thinking about the other affairs.
However, the screen that he’d hoped to appear didn’t.
Logout…… it’d been quite some time since he’d last seen that game screen.
Nearly a hundred years had passed since then.
The man believed that some kind of malfunction had occurred with the STR.
He’d spent an entire lifetime in this game and still had no idea how much time had passed since then…… however, why weren’t there any uneasy feelings?
If ten days had passed in the real world, his real body should have died by now. That line of logic was what had convinced the man of his continued safety in the real world.
The man rose from his bed and took a look outside his window.
He’d made the Mt. Arthus cathedral in the Hiruku Theocracy his base quite some time ago.
The man’s name was Thanatos Shirubiwes Hiruku……
He was the Pope who reigned over the Hiruku Theocracy.
The Pope noticed something all of a sudden.
“One of my followers has fallen…… again.”
The Pope let out that utterance before a depth laugh began to leak from behind his veil.
In the game, even an NPC was able to defeat the low-level, mass-produced skeleton knights
However, an NPC capable of killing his direct followers didn’t exist.
According to mechanisms of the game, only another player should be capable of doing that…… In other words, a player would be coming soon.
Could they get in touch with the outside……? Or were they a victim of the same malfunction?
In any case, playing the same game for a hundred years was bound to grow tedious.
At first, in order to kill time, he had protected the human countries, in an ironic kind of game. If the country died, he simply turned all of the populace into undead, and recently he’d finally built up enough forces to launch a large-scale invasion.
Honestly, he could have launched the invasion a while ago, but for a time, doing the monotonous work of preparing the invasion strangely felt good.
Perhaps I can finally meet a comrade…… those feelings were growing within him, but they had already destroyed his carefully crafted followers and declared war.
It wasn’t too late to play the game a little bit longer.
Pope Thanatos began to laugh as he contently watched over the territory he’d built.
The majestic Arthus Cathedral sat atop a mountainous hill…… a strong wind, peculiar to this area, blow through the window and blew on Pope Thanatos’s veil.
Pope Thanatos didn’t have any expression or a face for that matter.
There was only a human skull with two red lights floating within its dark eye sockets.
It was impossible to grasp any type of expression from the skull, but a deep laughter could be heard from his clattering mouth, that eerie sound echoed throughout the mountain range.
Silver Here: This was a nice calm before the storm type of volume that I really liked. Things couldn’t remain at the level the V6 ended on and I really enjoyed what the author did with it because it highlighted what I consider the strengths of the series.
First off, Arc isn’t the end all be all of power in the world. While his strength places him pretty fucking high in the power rankings his lack of any formal training leaves him vulnerable. A skilled-enough opponent can give him a challenge and, as Ferufivisurotte showed, he’s put on his back foot when facing someone that matches his power and exceeds him in skill and experience. In my opinion this creates a believable OP protagonist that can be defeated without creating some arbitrary weakness for him.
Second, the world just seems deeper than what I’ve seen in most OP protagonist stories. I’m not saying we’re dealing with Tolkien levels of complexity here, but there are enough faction, sub-factions, and individuals within world that I can believe that it was functioning on its own just fine before the Arc-shaped monkey ranch fell into it. In fact, a good chunk of the novel could be summarized as Arc fucking up someone’s plans.
Third, I know some people were peeved at the last epilogue, but I just loved with was done with the Pope. He’s sit up as Arc’s dark reflection was done so well that some (you know who you are) think they’re two sides of the same person. The thing is, I could definitely see Arc becoming like the Pope after a hundred years, a bored demi-god willing and able to conquer nations, if it wasn’t for meeting Ariane and getting the spring water.
Now that the board has been set, it’s time for the prize fight to play out next time.